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Development of Sign Language & Its Use in Contemporary Education

by - Diana Thenerd

Posted on November 27, 2018 13:53

Sign language is one of the earliest and most basic forms of human communication. We can find many examples of people using visual gestures to express themselves long before a formal sign language was established. Native Americans utilized simple hand signs to communicate with other tribes and to facilitate trade with Europeans. Sign languages are natural human languages with their own vocabulary and grammatical rules. Sign language is one of the easiest languages to learn. So many of the signs are commonplace gestures. Children pick up on the signs quickly and are eager to use them. The fact that it is easy helps encourage the learning.

The Pioneers of Sign Language-

The first notable pioneer, perhaps inventor of sign language is Juan Pablo Bonet. Then, in France in the 18th century, along came Charles-Michel de l 'Epee. He opened the first free public school for the Deaf, The Institut National de Jeunes Sourds de Paris. He created what is known as the Instructional Method Of Signs. It is also referred to now as "Old Signed French" or "Methodical Signs." The first American school for the deaf was established in 1817 by Laurent Clerc and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet. They are often credited as the inventors of American Sign Language. The American Sign Language (ASL) has been one of the primary means of communication for the deaf since the early 1800s. ASL is used in the United States and Canada. Other sign languages are used across the world, including Malaysia, Germany, Austria, Norway, and Finland.

Different Countries Have Different Sign Languages-

In total, there are over two hundred sign languages in use around the world today including American Sign Language (ASL), French Sign Language (FSL), British Sign Language (BSL), Pidgin Signed English (PSE) or Signed English, Signing Exact English (SEE) and Australian Sign Language (Auslan). Most countries that share a spoken language do not share the same sign language.

The Contribution of Sign Language for the Education of Deaf and Dumb-

Deaf children have a right to a quality education, like all other children, in a language and environment that maximizes their potential. For individuals who were living their whole life having hearing and speaking difficulties, education and learning can be difficult. Educators should adjust to each class of pupils, and handling deaf or students with hearing conditions demands a few changes to conventional teaching techniques. Bilingual-Bicultural approach in the American Sign Language is the only method used in the classroom. Traditional English is taught through exposure to printed words on paper.

Final Thoughts-

Those who suffer from being deaf and have impaired hearing should not be sheltered from communicating with the rest of their peers. Just because a portion of the population cannot hear or speak, does not mean that their form of communication should not advance along with the rest of the world. Parents should introduce a child who is deaf or hard-of-hearing to language as soon as possible. The earlier any child is exposed to and begins to acquire language, the better that child’s communication skills will become.

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